Gen Yers Won’t Make Companies Collaborative – Tools Integrated Into Business Processes Will

A few weeks ago, my colleage Ted Schadler caused a bit of a stir when he revealed – shockingly! – Gen Xers were actually leading the social technology revolution for information and knowledge management – not Gen Yers. I want to double down on this idea: Gen Yers aren’t driving the business use of any collaboration technologies. In a report that I’ve just completed, we show that despite their much ballyhooed technical savvy, Gen Yers are just as apathetic toward all of the fancy new collaboration software – like web conferencing and team workspaces – as their older colleagues. You’ll note I said “apathetic.” Well, beyond email and calendars, information workers really aren’t using these tools. If that gives strategists and marketers at the software giants that produce these tools pause, the fact that Gen Yers still see their organizations as collaborative, even though they don’t use “collaboration tools,” should be alarming.

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Gen Y and the Future of the Workplace: Recapping Our Discussion With Forrester Clients

Followers of my posts on this blog have seen a consistent theme: what does the influx of young workers mean for the present and future business world? Yesterday afternoon my colleagues Clarie Schooley and Heidi Shey joined me in hosting 82 Forrester clients for an open and frank discussion on this topic. The conversation, which included participants across the age spectrum, was spirited and landed on a few broad concepts:

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Gen Y’s Effect On Business Social Technology Isn’t As Big As Some Have Said

Here’s a funny finding: The youngest members of the workforce aren’t the drivers of social technology use in business. How can this be? Haven’t we been told that the generation that made MySpace and Facebook popular would be the one that dragged stodgy, old companies kicking and screaming into a 21st century where corporate hierarchy is flattened through Web 2.0? Don’t companies need to adopt wikis and blogs in order to recruit and retain Gen Yers? Well, the early returns say the answer is, “no.”

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What Does Gen Y In The Workforce Really Mean?

Recently, I was on a call where a senior executive wondered whether or not kids entering the workforce in the next 5 years can write complete sentences now that everyone texts. For me, this is another example in an old story: fear (and some loathing) of Gen Y’s entrance into the workplace.  And frankly, as a 20-something, I think a lot of it is unfounded.

At no time is this fear more clear than when the conversation turns to approaches and technologies related to collaboration and Web 2.0 – areas that I cover for vendor strategy professionals. At this point I think I’ve heard it all. “Gen Y is bringing in unsecure consumer technology!” “We have to adopt wikis and social networks to recruit college graduates!” “Email is dead because the kids don’t use it!” Being a good sport about this, I’ve tried to shrug it off as the typical complaining one generation does about its kids. But the longer I cover this space, the more I believe this isn’t going away for two reasons:

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